Friday, May 11, 2018

Throw out the Trash

As I wrote about in The Card what it feels like and what it means when a negative word such as RACIST is leveled against you.  I am pretty sure that is the King of Spades (yes that is pun) in the deck and in turn few others carry the weight of a full house.  Misogynist, Sexist, Islamaphobe and Anti-Semite are all cards that comprise the cards to fill out the run but are still lesser cards.  Being a racist is somehow equivalent to Slaveholder I guess as again I am not sure what that label means when one declares you as such.  For now there are federal hate crime laws if one acts upon said racist ideology but being one is not criminal nor a crime.  And unless you take to the streets with a Tiki torch I am assuming that like kinky sex you could easily closet it, like being Gay in the 50s!

Sarah Braasch of Yale is a RACIST as she has immense issues with her Black Yale Classmate to the point of calling the Police when she found her sleeping in the Common Room.  The Common Room denotes this common thing and clearly you may find a sleeping colleague and compared to the other options this may not be a bad thing, annoying as should you be quiet, keep the lights off and leave or turn them on go about your business whatever that would be in the Common Room? I have never attended Yale or Harvard but what I have come to know about them is that they are the elite and they have privileges in ways I will never understand or come to know.  So Sarah is spoiled no doubt and I am not sure she is akin to the Starbucks Manager who seemed to have some issues buried in the Starbucks policy that enabled her to either mask her biases or prejudices towards those not like here,  but again we will never know as we have never heard her story about the event.  But it also appears that in this case with Sarah we will never either.   If ever was an appropriate time for Restorative Justice this moment is it.

I was at Publix and I watched three teenage girls grab a sheet cake and run out of the store being chased by a Publix employee who took a photo of the car license plate and I doubt seriously that the Police pursued the cake thieves.  At the Opry Mills mall shooting the three young people all 22 were having a disagreement over an insult posted on Facebook and in turn one shot and killed the other and the female companion had in her purse two other guns that led to her arrest as well. Those and the one in the shooting were stolen,  The woman who owned the gun had said gun in her car as her father was shot and killed decades ago and she needed it to feel safe. It appears the kids or someone whom they knew stole the gun form her car.  The woman, white, the kids are black, one dead one definitely going to prison, the other undoubtedly to jail  All over a sleight and gun that was never needed nor ever used for its intended purpose.  Every single day another story is about a theft, a shooting or an act of violence, almost all of it young and almost all them black. And this is the justification behind the behaviors and beliefs of many as this Mayoral candidate here believes.

And I have never felt compelled to care about race as the first thing I saw in the case of the cake  was that the girls were young, really young.  But every day we hear about the kids who are stealing, carjacking, shooting or harming others and here in Nashville it is almost always exclusively black children.  A less that 20 percent of the population are the largest committers of crime?  But then today I watched a White woman on a security camera shove stuff in a stroller at White's Mercantile in Franklin, one of my most favorite stores and I was relieved.  This is what it has become I again note the race of the perpetrator for what and for whom I have no idea.

But in  this lies in with the idea that it was the white working poor who brought us Trump.  No, no they weren't.  Just as we are as appalled with Kayne West or others of color who seem to validate the Trump the reality of life is that we all are who we are and that nothing is as it seems.  I do think we have found ourselves at a real precipice dealing with the issue of race that we never did during the Obama years.  And now that we have the epitome of  the Southern Boss as President we finally are.  And we still stereotype and segregate among races of the same color.  There are White Elites and Liberals vs Progressives, Conservatives and Fundamentalists and of course White Trash.   Funny those are the same people whose Teachers took to the hills to strike for better school funding and did not vote a moron in the primary in West Virginia.  Yes all of the problems in America seem to be in Appalachia or in the Midwest or as we now call it Trump Country.   There are no disgruntled sad angry drug addled under/unemployed white people anywhere else.  And we can thank the obsession due to one book - Hillbilly Elegy.

If you have not read Hillbilly Elegy you can and should but be advised that J.D. Vance is too a Yale graduate and his smugness and arrogance is that of fully forged identity with the G.O.P which is not surprising given his Ivy League credentials.  That also    means his assessment and attitudes are very much colored by his politics.  Sarah Evans in The New Republic is quick to point out that while he writes of a white community largely decimated by a lack of work, opportunity, education he writes of his own world and not of others who share the region as home.   The Bitter Southerner also has an essay from two young people who have words of rebuke after Vance spoke a group in their region.

Funny how the Opioid Crisis is a Crisis as in reality that is not the first nor last where drugs have been featured in American crisis, as we have had the Marijuana one, the Crack one and the Meth one. Ah I remember them well and the endings were very different for those who lives were touched by our War on Drugs.  Like the one on Poverty there were no winners in either.

I could spend the entire day documenting each encounter with those "different" than myself and guess what that is pretty much everyone.  Unless I meet an Educated White Atheist woman age 58, from Seattle, who is not married, never had children, is not Gay is self sufficient, highly read and informed and highly independent then no, no one is like me. I am different like everyone else.   I am not solely defined by my race or gender.

There is one thing that you understand reading Vance's book, or Evans article or the essay from The Bitter Southerner is that those in the South and those who are poor are immensely complex and complicated people and much of this passed on like a STD that runs generations.    It appears that   once one leaves they do not return and if they do only as observers or sylphs that impart wisdom that they got out and you can too if you work hard enough, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, stay off drugs, get an education, pray and then you too will get  a job that will take you out of here.  Again what that says is that anyone who stays is not smart enough, good enough and people don't like them is because they were not strong enough or good enough or worked hard enough or did enough and/or failed to pray enough in which to do so. It is never enough.

My South, well that is just that -  not mine - has truly been a revelation.  I came here two years ago and cannot wait to leave.  I am exhausted trying to reconcile my anger and rage, a  dental treatment has no timeline, my loneliness with no friends or even solid acquaintances to shoot the breeze or catch a movie with and in turn my work in public schools that embarrass and bore me on a daily basis.  When my singular largest encounters are with children so traumatized by poverty and their social and racial isolation it affects you in ways you could never anticipate; I get the anger but I have no interest in which to connect or even try to assuage it.  I am exhausted from trying to care and pretending I do when in actuality I count the days like a Prisoner in solitary.

That is how I feel here that I can never be enough it rubs off on you like the humidity and it is oppressive.  I drink way too much wine every night, watch way too much bad TV and in turn wake up as angry and alone as I was the day before.  I am fortunate enough to be able to rent cars, take Yoga or sign up for Barre classes, swim at the Y or take holidays that at least temporarily revitalize me.  I cannot believe that I will turn 60 here and not be vacating within the few moths that follow that I worry about it daily as I see faces of such anger here and this is in the "it" city and by it I am not sure what that truly means. 

It seems to be mismanagement of city and school funds, a State legislature that overrides any Municipal policies, decisions or plans. It means that most of our Government is dictated by an electorate that is less than a third of the population and that only a third of the population is in fact educated. It means substandard education opportunities, a legacy of racism and oppression of women and an obsession with religion.   But even a coffee shop here is under fire for trying to do the right thing but it is never enough. The card has been tossed and he too must make amends.  Okay what are those?  It is never enough.

And there is little I can say or do that will change hearts or minds here about anything. This is not a place that embraces knowledge or conflict they see it as rude, aggressive and elite.  Check, check, check, all of the above.  I have never called the Police or been afraid of any minority individual in my life. I have never reported, graded or treated anyone differently because of their color/ethnicity/gender/sexuality in even unconscious micro aggression ways. And if I did I would immediately apologize but that is not enough it seems today.   If I don't like you I DON'T LIKE YOU.  And I have met many kids I don't like I am pretty open about our conflict and I work around it or at least try. You can when you teach, you do group projects, never read a paper with the name first and in turn write exams that are machine graded and you can handle with some effort if you choose.  Conflict resolution is what they call it and if you can manage it with a child you can take this into adulthood.    It is possible as ask yourself when you are working with someone you don't like what do you do? I assume whine as today working through and finding compromise seems to be a problem.  Blame, point fingers and excuse.  Good working philosophy and it appears that Amazon has mastered that quite well.

Then I came here and I feel that regardless that only seeing people through a prism of race is a problem. Add to this that every encounter is broken down, over analyzed, digressed and dissected to the point I cannot live in the moment and embrace it.  I worry that this will carry over with me the longer I stay.  This is my South, a dying vine that has been pruned and some living blooms are there but it is only a matter of time before it will finally die.   There is nothing here that tells me otherwise.  Generations used to be a soap opera and that is what runs in the water like lead - anger, resentment, jealousy all the elements that they preach in the Church is why they do.  The love money almost as much as they love God and it is that which is their lead its toxic.

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